MANILA - Malacañang on Friday assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is safe in India amid reports that the Islamic State has put the Filipino on its radar.
Indian news site The Print, citing sources, said Duterte’s role in the defeat of Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City “has provoked the group to mobilize sleeper cells based in Indonesia, which are now planning a strike.”
"Duterte is coming with baggage, as he has been very vocal about wiping out IS. The Indonesian President too will be present, and could also be a target. We have intelligence inputs that the IS has mobilized its people and is planning to strike,” a security agency source told The Print, referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Presidential Security Group and Indian authorities have taken all measures to ensure that Duterte and fellow Southeast Asian leaders, who are now in India, are secured.
"PRRD will not cower to threats from ISIS nor any other terrorist groups. He has pledged to serve the Filipino people and has left the issue of his mortality to the creator,” Roque said in a statement.
"He is unmoved by this latest threat and will be unrelenting in his fight against violent extremism. All precautions though are being taken by the PSG and Indian authorities.”
Over 1,000 people, mostly Islamic State-inspired terrorists, died in the five month-long siege in Marawi, the Islamic center of Mindanao.
The siege has prompted concerns that the international terror network, suffering setbacks in Iraq and Syria, is now looking at Southeast Asia as its next hub.
Security concerns remain in Mindanao as Islamic State sympathizers from various groups continue to roam around the region.
Duterte and his fellow Southeast Asian leaders are in India to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - India Commemorative Summit and India’s Republic Day celebrations, in what is widely seen as New Delhi’s attempt to court the regional bloc in the face of growing Chinese influence.